New theories of problematization in interpretive and argumentative policy analysis have sought to articulate the ambiguity of policymaking in practice. Key works offering new interpretations of problematization include books by Hoppe (The Governance of Problems 2010), Bacchi (Analysing Policy 2009) and articles by Turnbull (Critical Policy Studies 2008, 2013). These ‘new problematization’ theories differ from ‘problem-solving’ approaches in stressing contingency and interpretation. But they also differ from other interpretive approaches in building a general approach based on the concepts of questioning and problems. They aim to synthesize interpretive theory with practical theories of policymaking as the treatment of problems. This centers on the idea that ‘question’ or ‘problem’ provides a conceptual unity across all aspects of the policy process, including the formulation of policy problems, power relations involved, and participation of actors. This vocabulary of contingency is also found in the practical language of policy work.

This panel calls for papers that extend these theoretical arguments to the field of policy design. Papers will work from the new problematization theories of policy practice to investigate their potential to contribute to practical policy design. Whereas much policy design research emphasizes goal-directed rationality, these papers will aim to elaborate the practical contribution of contingent theories of problematization.

Deadline: 6 October 2013 Proposals: Title and abstract of approx. 250 words

To submit a paper proposal for this panel, contact Nick Turnbull: